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We must not make a scarecrow of the law,
Setting it up to fear the beasts of prey; And in Antony and Cleopatra, ii. 6,
Thou canst not fear us, Pompey, with thy sails. In The Taming of the Shrew, i. 2, we have in a single line (or two hemistichs) both senses of the verb to fear: “Tush! tush ! fear boys with bugs," says Petruchio in scorn; to which his servant Grumio rejoins, aside, “For he fears none.”
246. That is enough to satisfy the senate. — Not (as the words might in other circumstances mean) enough to insure their being satisfied, but enough for me to do towards that end.
246. She dreamt to-night she saw my statue. It may be mentioned that both Rowe and Pope substitute last night, which would, indeed, seem to be the most natural expression ; but it is unsupported by any of the old copies. — The word statue is of frequent occurrence in Shakespeare; and in general it is undoubtedly only a dissyllable. In the present Play, for instance, in the very next speech we have
Your statue spouting blood in many pipes. And so likewise in 138, and again in 377. Only in one line, which occurs in Richard III. iii. 7, —
But like dumb statuës or breathing stones, is it absolutely necessary that it should be regarded as of three syllables, if the received reading be correct. In that passage also, however, as in every other, the word in the First Folio is printed simply statues, exactly as it always is in the English which we now write and speak.
On the other hand, it is certain that statue was frequently written statua in Shakespeare's age; Bacon, for example, always, I believe, so writes it; and it is not impossible that its full pronunciation may have been always trisyllabic, and that it became a dissyllable only by the two short vowels, as in other cases, being run together so as to count prosodically only for one.
“From authors of the times,” says Reed, in a note on The Two Gentlemen of Verona, iv. 4, 66 it would not be difficult to fill whole pages with instances to prove that statue was at that period a trisyllable." But unfortunately he does not favor us with one such instance. Nor, with the exception of the single line in Richard III., the received reading of which has been suspected for another reason (breathing stones being not improbably, it has been thought, a misprint for unbreathing stones), has any decisive instance been produced either by Steevens, who refers at that passage to what he designates as Reed's
very decisive note,” or by any of the other commentators anywhere, or by Nares, who also commences his account of the word in his Glossary by telling us that it was long used in English as a trisyllable.”
The only other lines in Shakespeare in which it has been conceived to be other than a word of two syllables are the one now under examination, and another which also occurs in the present Play, in 425 :
Even at the base of Pompey's statue. These two lines, it will be observed, are similarly constructed in so far as this word is concerned ; in both the supposed trisyllable concludes the verse.
Now, we have many verses terminated in exactly the same manner by other words, and yet it is very far from being certain that such verses were intended to be accounted verses of ten syllables, or were ever so pronounced.
First, there is the whole class of those ending with words in tion or sion. This termination, it is true, usually makes two syllables in Chaucer, and it may do so sometimes, though it does not generally, in Spenser; it is frequently dissyllabic, in indisputable instances, even with some of the dramatists of the early part of the seventeenth century, and particularly with Beaumont and Fletcher (and so in Milton, Il Penseroso, Hymn on the Nativity, etc.] ; but it is only on the rarest occasions that it is other than monosyllabic in the middle of the line with Shakespeare. Is it, then, to be supposed that he employed it habitually as a dissyllable at the end of a line ? It is of continual occurrence in both positions. For example, in the following line of the present speech,
But for your private satisfaction, can we think that the concluding word was intended to have any different pronunciation from that which it has in the line of Romeo and Juliet (ii. 2), –
What satisfaction canst thou have to-night? or in this other from Othello (iii. 3), –
But for a satisfaction of my thought? Is it probable that it was customary then, any more than it is now, to divide tion into two syllables in the one case more than in the other?
Secondly, there are numerous verses terminating with the verbal affix ed, the sign of the preterite indicative active or of the past participle passive. This termination is not circumstanced exactly as tion is : the utterance of it as a separate syllable is the rare exception in our modern pronunciation; but it evidently was not so in Shakespeare's day; the distinct syllabication of the ed would rather seem to have been almost as common then as its absorption in the preceding syllable. For instance, when Juliet, in Romeo and Juliet, iii. 2, repeating the Nurse's • words, exclaims, –
Tybalt is dead, and Romeo banished:
Hath slain ten thousand Tybalts, the ed in That banished clearly makes a distinct syllable; and, that being the case, it must be held to be equally such in the two other repetitions of the word. But in other cases its coalescence with the preceding syllable will only produce the same effect to which we are accustomed when we disregard the antiquated pronunciation of the tion at the end of a line, and read it as one syllable. In the present Play, for example, it might be so read in 304, —
Thy brother by decree is banished, as it was probably intended (in another prosodical position) to be read afterwards in 309,
That I was constant Cimber should be banished, and as it must be read in 305,
For the repealing of my banished brother. Yet, although most readers in the present day would elide the e in all the three instances, it ought to be observed that in the original edition the word is printed in full in the first and with the apostrophe in the two others. And this distinction in the printing is employed to indicate the pronunciation throughout the volume. How such a line as
Thy brother by decree is banished, being a very common prosodical form in Shake
speare, was intended by him to be read, or was commonly read in his day, must therefore remain somewhat doubtful. If, however, the e was elided in the pronunciation, such verses would be prosodically exactly of the same form or structure with those, also of very frequent occurrence, in which all that we have for a fifth foot is the affix or termination tion, on the assumption that that was pronounced only as one syllable.
One way of disposing of such lines would be to regard them as a species of hemistich or truncated line. Verses which, although not completed, are correctly constructed as far as they go, occur in every Play in great numbers and of all dimensions; and those in question would be such verses wanting the last syllable, as others do the two or three or four or five last. This explanation would take in the case of the lines, “ She dreamt to-night she saw my statue,” and “Even at the base of Pompey's statue," and of others similarly constructed, supposing statue to be only a dissyllable, as well as all those having in the last foot only tion or ed. But most probably this particular kind of truncated line, consisting of nine syllables, would not occur so frequently as it does but for the influence exerted by the memory
of the old pronunciation of the two terminations just mentioned even after it had come to be universally or generally disused. For instance, although the word satisfaction had already come in the age of Shakespeare to be generally pronounced exactly as it is at the present day, the line “ But for your private satisfaction” was the more readily accepted as a sufficient verse by reason of the old syllabication of the word, which, even by those who had abandoned it (as Shakespeare himself evidently had